Dagg dominates day 1 in Norfolk
CF Racing's newcomer Paul Dagg scored pole position and a race win at Snetterton
F3 Cup arrived at Snetterton for its final weekend of 2016 with the championship standings hanging delicately in the balance. Championship leader Shane Kelly held a margin of just two points (before dropped scores are taken into account) over George Line, with a further five drivers all lining up to take the title out of their hands.
Qualifying got underway on a dry circuit, with Line quickly finding his rhythm to top the table. His CF Racing teammate James Heffernan was hot on his heels, lapping within 0.04s of Line, but it took no time at all for the team's third driver Paul Dagg to storm to the top. The Irishman may have never raced at Snetterton before, but testing during the week was enough to give the BOSS Ireland driver the knowledge he needed to extract the most from his Dallara F311.
With all three of their drivers running the fastest times, CF Racing's hopes for the Teams' Championship title were looking good, but Team Fox Racing's Robbie Watts had no intention of letting them get their own way. Posting a 1:43.230, he split the CF Racing drivers to take second place. Kelly would finish the session in fifth, explaining to commentator Alan Hyde afterwards,"We caught the traffic so struggled a bit with that. We're happy with the car."
As the cars lined up for the first race of the weekend the track was dry and cool, setting the scene for some very fast times. As the lights went out Dagg made a great start, holding his lead into the first corner. Drama ensued further back however, as Malcolm Scott struggled to get away and suffered extensive damage as Tony Bishop collided from behind. With Scott's car stranded near the pit exit, the Safety Car was deployed, neutralising the race. At the restart, Dagg made another clean getaway, controlling the pack to his advantage leaving the following three to battle for position. Sadly Mark Harrison was forced to retire to the pit lane with mechanical issues.
Kelly, still in fifth, began to find himself under pressure from Stuart Wiltshire, Jacopo Sebastiani and Daryl Jones, the foursome lapping almost wing-to-wing and managing to avoid Robbie Watts as he came unstuck further ahead.
Despite the mostly blue skies, a few laps from the end a rain shower developed around the Oggies corner, with a number of cars coming unstuck - including the leader. Most escaped unscathed, and as the chequered flag fell the victory was Dagg's, claiming the fastest lap point too. Line brought his car home second ahead of Heffernan, improving on CF Racing's 1-2 finish at Silverstone to give the team a full podium lock-out. Stuart Wiltshire finished fourth ahead of Team Fox's Daryl Jones.
Sunday's (9 October) championship deciding races will take place at 11:50 and 15:15. Coverage will be available via www.f3cup.co.uk/live